The diary of Georgi Dimitrov, 1933-1949
- introduced and edited by Ivo Banac ; German part translated by Jane T. Hedges, Russian by Timothy D. Sergay, and Bulgarian by Irina Faion.
- New Haven : Yale University Press, c2003.
Where to find it
Georgi Dimitrov (1882-1949) was a high-ranking Bulgarian and Soviet official, one of the most prominent leaders of the international communist movement and a trusted member of Stalin's inner circle. Accused by the Nazis of setting the Reichstag fire in 1933, he successfully defended himself at the Leipzig Trial and thereby became an international symbol of resistance to Nazism. Stalin appointed him head of the Communist International (Comintern) in 1935, and he held this position until the Comintern's dissolution in 1943. After the end of World War II, Dimitrov returned to Bulgaria and became its first communist premier.
Germany The German portion of Dimitrov's diary, written in Nazi detention from 9 March 1933 to 28 February 1934, is extremely dry and elliptical, and occasionally obscure. Dimitrov was well aware that his jottings would be subject to examination by his captors. Hence the notes have the character of a bare record-of a chronology that can be elaborated, if necessary, containing important reminders that could be useful in his battle of will with the Nazis. The diary begins with his arrest, early encounters with the investigating magistrates, and a shrewd record of Nazi thoughts on objectivity (an obstacle in the war against national enemies), the necessity of serving "national thinking" ( der nationale Gedanke ), and fighting against "Marxist criminals and their Jewish intellectual instigators." Dimitrov recorded the humiliation of being handcuffed by order of the investigating magistrate on 5 April 1933 and his almost five-month struggle to have the manacles removed. Thus fettered, he continued recording various events, confrontations with the witnesses, the receipt of letters and parcels, correspondence and meetings with his uncooperative lawyers ("Official counsel for the defense = saboteur of the defense!"), and letters to and from the investigating magistrates, various relatives, including his sister Yelena Dimitrova in Moscow, and sister Magdalina Barumova and mother, Parashkeva, in Sofia, various German friends, journalists, and foreign Communists, notably the writer Henri Barbusse and Jacques Doriot; the latter, ironically, later became the leader of a French fascist faction. It was during the early months of uncertainty in detention that he learned about the death of his wife Ljubica Ivosevic-Dimitrova, who committed suicide in Moscow on 27 May 1933. The nature of his relationship with Any Kruger, a frequent correspondent (15 August 1933: "'engagement announcement'-she made it herself! Oh, poor, dumb Any!"), and her daughters is not clear. From August on, he corresponded with Rosa Fleischmann, a Sudeten Communist, who became his second wife. Dimitrov was transported to Leipzig on 18 September 1933 for the trial proceedings that began on 21 September. Portions of the trial that was held in Berlin, from 10 October to 18 November, included the testimony of such Nazi chieftains as Göring and Goebbels, with whom Dimitrov clashed dramatically. The trial was concluded on 23 December 1933 in Leipzig with the acquittal of Dimitrov, his two Communist Bulgarian fellow defendants, Blagoi Popov and Vasil Tanev, and the German Communist Ernst Torgler. But unlike the other accused Communists, who defended themselves, Dimitrov turned the trial into an attack on Nazism. (Principal defendant Marinus van der Lubbe was condemned to death and later executed.) During the trial and after, he had meetings with his mother and sister Magdalina, who came to visit him from Bulgaria, and he was encouraged by various defense efforts. Kept in protective custody after the verdict, Dimitrov attended the 1933 Protestant and Catholic Christmas services after his acquittal ("If I were a believer, I would definitely be Prot[estant] rather than Cathol[ic]") but soon had to contend with the prolongation of his detention, for Bulgaria refused to acknowledge his citizenship. Finally, on 15 February 1934 the USSR granted citizenship to all three Bulgarian veterans of the Leipzig trial. Deported from Germany on 17 February, they reached Moscow the same evening, to official greetings. The excerpts that follow contain only a few fragments that record Dimitrov's changing moods during the ordeal.-I.B. · 5 April 1933 · (WEDNESDAY) [...] 7. Handcuffs, by order of the investigating magistrate! (Perhaps in response to my request to ease my personal situation in prison! -Or-as a method of interrogation?) · 6 April 1933 · (THURSDAY) 1. Wrote to the judge about the handcuffs (if this is a punishment, [I] do not deserve it; if it is intended as a security measure, then it is not necessary, because as a well-known Bulg[arian] political personality I think not at all of the responsibility of withdrawing or fleeing, on the contrary I have my own interest and my political honor, which has been damaged through this current accusation, to defend and rescue). * * * [...] · 26 April 1933 · (WEDNESDAY) 1. To the investigating magistrate: Please allow me to remind you that I still await information about: 1. Discussion with my lawyer 2. Transfer to the cashier of the remand prison the 5 M . of my seized money that was derequisitioned 3. Letter to Miss Kaiser that was not sent [in handwriting: "Again no answer."] 4. German textbook from Mr. Interpreter * * * In addition, I have just ascertained that I often receive the correspondence addressed to me with great delay . Only yesterday, for example, I received a letter from Mrs. Krüger dated 19 April-that is, on the sixth day! I understand completely, that some time is needed for inspection, but this cannot explain, and even less justify, a delay of almost a week . Mrs. Krüger also complained that she hadn't received a letter from me for an entire week . I request that you authorize my correspondence, as a prisoner awaiting trial, to be delivered more regularly whenever possible. * * * Finally, I remind you, that I am still handcuffed day and night! With these handcuffs on, I must write and read, sit and sleep! Isn't it enough for you that I have endured this moral and physical torment for almost a month? Isn't it time that this barbaric measure be removed? * * * [...] · 1 May 1933 · (MONDAY)-DAY OF "NATIONAL WORK" - Moscow - Berlin -two historical antipodes! And I sit in "Moabit"-handcuffed! -Dreadful and deplorable! [...] · 4 May 1933 · (THURSDAY) 1. To the investigating magistrate: Naturally I do not need to thank you for notifying me that you refuse to release the money seized from me. And yet by this [action] you have freed me from a fleeting illusion. I assumed, for a moment, that at least in this connection I would be treated as a political person who is actually not guilty of arson and who is in jail only because of his convictions and his acceptance of his Communist duty, no worse than a robber or murderer, and that I can count on a few marks from my money for a textbook and newspaper. Now I see that this was an illusion. I may not recover any of my money; I may not receive any visitors and, at the same time, I must be handcuffed day and night, although the most dangerous murderer in the prison is not placed in such a position. Yes, this is just and logical. I mustn't forget for one minute that [I] am in the hands of class enemies who also strive to take advantage of justice as a weapon to exterminate communism, that is, in fact, to destroy its confident, determined, and reliable representatives, independent of the personal views of the individual judge. Excuse me please, Mr. Counselor of the Supreme Court, for openly expressing my opinion, my perception. Unfortunately, I cannot say these things to anyone else. [...] · 6 May 1933 · (SATURDAY) - A day without anything! No letter, no news, no "prison event["]- nothing! not even the usual shave -I also did not write to anyone, owing to a shortage of postal fees (not a penny do I have!). [...] · 10 May 1933 · (WEDNESDAY) 1. To the lawyer: With my letters from 27 April and 2 May I have repeatedly requested an interview. I am still waiting for this, in my opinion, important interview or for an answer from you. In the meantime, I have received a letter from my sister and mother in Sofia, in which they told me they have undertaken the necessary steps to be granted a foreign currency authorization and that the money will be sent 'in these days' (the letter is from 25 April). Since, however, various formalities must be taken care of in this matter, it may be a while before I receive the money. At the moment, I have no money even for postage . For this reason, I also cannot respond to the letter from Sofia. The day before yesterday I was notified that a parcel had arrived for me from Bulgaria (clearly from my sister) and I could not receive this parcel because I couldn't pay the duty (sixty-five Pf.!)! Not to mention that I still cannot order a newspaper or buy something from the canteen (to smoke, etc.)-Can't you, Mr. Lawyer, pay the prison cashier a few marks for me, until the [crossed out: money] promised money arrives? If that is possible, I would be very, very grateful to you. In addition, you can expect to receive some money from Sofia, sent directly to your address. I believe that you could have such an elementary trust in me and want to help me. [...] · 9 July 1933 · (SUNDAY)-15TH SUNDAY HERE -Difficult, gloomy! Outside-fabulous weather! [...] · 16 December 1933 · (SATURDAY) [...] 5. My speech-one is not allowed to speak about the situation in Ger[many] at the time of the Reichstag fire; not about the legal proceedings; nor about the actual necessity of the fire for the National Soc[ialists]-and so on. My petitions: 1) not guilty because of insufficient guilt and not because of insufficient proof; 2) Lubbe as tool misused by the enemies of the working class to present their view of communism; 3) to hold accountable the person responsible for our being drawn into this trial; 4) damages for the time lost and the harm done to the health of these people. After advice of the Senate, decision-further closing remarks from D[imitrov] not allowed-the right to speak withdrawn. [...] · 5 February 1934 · (MONDAY) With Detective Superintendent Heller . Almost all officials known from the "fire commission." An American correspondent. He wants to inquire about my "health." -The world is very interested. In America a film is even being made, and so forth. Are you healthy and being treated well? -I give no interviews, no explanation, for I am not a free man. I am a prisoner of war; I am a hostage. It is no wonder that my health has deteriorated-five months of handcuffs, three-month-long trial, two months-acquitted but not yet released. -But you aren't tortured? -Moral torture, day in, day out! I hold the view that if my destruction is necessary for the government, then the government should carry it out, but [the authorities should] give their reasons and accept the responsibility before the world. And not stage an unworthy game. -Yes, they do that in Russia. -Permit me: in Russia it is impossible that innocent persons who have been acquitted by the court should remain in prison one hour longer. -You understand that the government has political considerations. The campaign abroad; questions of prestige, and so on. -I do not believe that it is a rational policy to hold us in prison. -Do you believe that you will be released? -To look at the situation in a politically rational way, I should already have been released. But reason does not always govern the world. -Have you given up your Bulg[arian] citizen[ship]? -No! I will never give it up! -If you return to Bulg[aria], you will be shot-they say. -That is a problem for the government. -I will live another twenty years and fight for comm[unism] and then die peacefully. -You must now be patient. The government cannot capitulate to foreign countries. -I have enough patience, but, if matters should continue, then I have one last weapon for self-defense-the hunger strike. -Yes, but you want to live another twenty years. -That is a matter of opinion. To conclude: If you are a conscientious correspondent, -That I am! -I would like to think so. Then convey to the public my decisive protest against this barbarity, that I and my Bulg[arian] comrades are still held in prison, as hostages. * * * -"Tomorrow visit from Mother and Sister," Heller announced. * * * -Suitcases in my cell; money-downstairs. Various other promises ... * * * "Have you spoken with Lubbe? What do you think of him?["] -No. What an idiot! He remains a riddle as a person. I have already given my opinion of him in court. [...] · 27 February 1934 · (TUESDAY)-BERLIN-MOSCOW! - Raben at 5:30 a.m.: "Get up; pack up!" Diels -Written "Release and deportation." Accompanied to airport. "We want good relations with the S[oviet] U[nion]. If that were not the case, we would not send you to Moscow!" As far as Königsberg -Heller, Morovsky, Raben. Heller: "I hope that you will be objective. And not say such dreadful things as others have done." "I hope that I will again come to Germany, but then as a guest of Soviet Germany." "As long as I am here, that will not be the case." With another airplane, direct to Moscow . At 7 o'clock-at "home." Manuilsky , Knorin, and others-large crowds at the airport. Enthusiastic reception. Lux! Kuusinen. Kitty [Kiti Jovanovic]. Conference with foreign correspondents. Questions by telephone from editors in London, Paris, and Berlin- -Flowers and greetings from Ulianova and Krupskaia! It is difficult to imagine a more grandiose reception or more sympathy and love. How everything has changed! Letter B. Kun! Radi [Petur Iskrov]- My picture -as a badge ... Continues... Excerpted from The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov 1933-1949 by Georgi Dimitrov Copyright © 2003 by Yale University Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
This item is about
- Annals of Communism
- New Haven : Yale University Press, c2003.
- Written in Russian, Bulgarian, and German. Published in Bulgarian in 1997 under the title: Dnevnik. Some material has been omitted from the English translation.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
- 495 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
- Genre or Form
- OCLC Number
- Other Identifiers
- LCCN: 2002190765
National Bibliography Number: GBA3-X8065